Ford Motor Co. was sued by Pennsylvania car owners who said its hybrid models don't deliver on fuel-efficiency claims. Ford's 2013 Fusion Hybrid and C-Max Hybrid models provide significantly worse fuel economy than the advertised 47 miles per gallon, according to a complaint filed in federal court in Philadelphia. The inaccurate representations allowed Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford to falsely claim those models outperformed competing vehicles, according to the suit.
"Plaintiffs are some of the tens of thousands of consumers who purchased a Fusion Hybrid or C-Max Hybrid, only to be stuck with under-performing, less valuable vehicles that inflict higher fuel costs on their owners," according to the complaint.
The Fusion, redesigned by Ford late last year, was the sixth best-selling model in the U.S. through March. Last month the model was selling from dealer lots faster and at higher prices than Toyota Motor Corp.'s Camry and Honda Motor Co.'s Accord.
"Ford's fuel economy labels are generated in accordance with EPA procedures and protocols," Todd Nissen, a Ford spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement.
Ford knew or should have known that the hybrid versions of the C-Max and Fusion don't deliver advertised fuel ratings, according to the complaint. The company uses a "driveability" test facility to simulate real-world conditions and both cars also come equipped with a SmartGauge on-board computer that displays current fuel economy, according to the complaint.
Ford said in December it's talking to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about how it tests fuel economy performance on new vehicles amid reports its hybrids fell short of mileage promises. Nissen said today that the company agrees with the EPA "that hybrid fuel economy performance industrywide is far more variable compared to conventional models." "We are open to a dialogue with the agencies to further improve the process for generating fuel economy labels," Nissen said in the statement.
The lawsuit, which seeks damages of at least $5 million, accuses Ford of fraud and violating the state's unfair-trade practices and consumer protection laws.